Over the past three years, Coquitlam Presbyterian Church (Coquitlam BC) has partnered with PWS&D to raise $47,417.76 as part of their annual Advent celebration. The below story was submitted by their mission team and expresses what motivated them to do Advent differently.

Rev. Allen Ye displays the bookmarks available in 2012 to acknowledge donations to the project made in someone's honour.

Rev. Allen Ye displays the bookmarks available in 2012 to acknowledge donations to the project made in someone’s honour.

“It all started with a video produced by Advent Conspiracy (adventconspiracy.org) and a sermon that challenged us to do Christmas differently. Instead of getting caught up in the busyness and excessive consumerism of the holiday season, we were to live in sync with God’s heart and help those in need. 

So in 2010, we decided to honour the One whose birth we celebrate by redirecting a portion of what we would normally spend on Christmas “stuff” (everything from gifts to decorations to food to entertainment to clothing) in order to provide the gift of clean water to a community in Tanzania.

We partnered with Presbyterian World Service & Development not only to support the work of our national church, but also because we liked their model of long-term, sustainable and community-led development.

The response from the congregation was amazing. Some redirected the savings from giving one less gift and gifts of time, or donated the money they would have normally spent on items like eating out and replacing Christmas decorations. Others honoured loved ones, friends, colleagues and teachers, by donating to the project in their name.  Children donated their allowance and raised funds by setting up a lemonade stand at the church bazaar. Youth donated money raised through babysitting or saved by making their presents.

Together we collected enough money to drill at least three wells, which will provide clean drinking water for approximately 900 people!

In 2012, Coquitlam Presbyterian supported a project providing safe spaces and leadership opportunities to children and youth facing violence, abuse and exploitation in Nicaragua’s urban markets.

In 2012, Coquitlam Presbyterian supported a project providing safe spaces and leadership opportunities to children and youth facing violence, abuse and exploitation in Nicaragua’s urban markets.

We did similar projects in the following two years, but this time we had the congregation vote on which of three PWS&D projects we would support. Both years we chose projects located in Nicaragua.

In 2011, we raised funds to provide seeds, saplings, tools and training for subsistence farmers, and in 2012, we provided training and support to protect at-risk children and youth from abuse and exploitation.

Spending less didn’t mean giving up Christmas gifts and family celebrations. Instead, it was about spending wisely in order to free up our resources so we could love like Jesus loves by giving to those who need our help.  Now that is a wonderful Christmas gift!  Praise God!”    

*Join with PWS&D to do Advent differently. Take the Advent Challenge and give the gifts of hope, peace, joy and love this holiday season.